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20:02 GMT +3 hours22 December 2014
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Court Bans Anti-Putin ‘Occupy’ Camp in Moscow

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A Moscow district court ordered on Tuesday the closure of an opposition camp in downtown Moscow, accusing activists of littering and destroying the greenery in the area.

A Moscow district court ordered on Tuesday the closure of an opposition camp in downtown Moscow, accusing activists of littering and destroying the greenery in the area.

Police and the district prefecture were ordered to “end” the opposition activities by the monument to Kazakh poet Abai Qunanbaiuli, also known as Abai Kunanbaev, on Chistoprudny Boulevard.

The court acted on a complaint from 12 residents of the neighborhood who accused the opposition of disrupting public order in the area.

Damage to lawns and shrubs in the area is estimated at 20 million rubles ($650,000), said Anton Kulbachevsky, the head of the City Hall’s environmental department.

Opposition activists pitched a camp at Abai’s feet on May 9 after two days of police crackdowns on protesters gathering on various squares in Moscow. The camp adopted the ironic slogan OccupyAbai, also a popular Twitter hash tag.

Organizers attempted to maintain discipline in the camp, cleaning litter and prohibiting alcohol. The camp was intended to stay in place until June 12, the Russia Day holiday when the opposition plans a new mass rally in Moscow.

“We will not leave because no court decision can ban people from gathering in parks and on boulevards,” said opposition leader Ilya Yashin. He said the protesters are ready to discuss any issues concerning the camp with police.

However, opposition spokeswoman Ksenia Sobchak said later the same day that the protesters are packing up and ready to take the camp elsewhere. She did not comment on the City Hall saying that no more opposition camps will be allowed in Moscow.